Child Mental Health and Human Capital Accumulation: The Case of ADHD
One in five U.S. youngsters has a mental disorder, but we know little about the effects of
these disorders on outcomes. We examine U.S. and Canadian children with symptoms of
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the most common child mental health
problem. Our innovations include the use of large nationally representative samples of children,
the use of questions administered to all children rather than focusing only on diagnosed cases,
and the use of sibling fixed effects to control for omitted variables. We find large negative
effects on test scores and schooling attainment suggesting that mental health conditions are a
more important determinant of average outcomes than physical health conditions.
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